Michael James Schwartz, 47, the owner of Effie & Co. Salon in Belmont Shore, unexpectedly passed away on July 12, 2020.
Based on the hundreds, if not thousands, of social media posts, notes, and emails, friends, family and clients have been inspired to live a better life because they knew and loved Michael.
Those who know him best say Michael navigated the challenges of life with love, integrity, and grace.
In a July 25, 2016, interview with Voyage LA Magazine, Michael shared how painful coming out was for him, “I was a victim of bullying around the age of 15. I was too ashamed to talk about it and it took a toll on my self-esteem.”
However, he stood strong, with the unconditional support of his family. He was “Loud and proud.”
“I fell into a heavy party crowd in Hollywood at the age of 16 and proceeded to seek out escapism in the preceding years, getting worse and worse as time went forward,” he said in the interview.
He shared the story, just short of 20 years ago, when Michael was fresh out of rehab. He took the bus to Belmont Shore knowing he needed to separate from those who compromised his sobriety.
He interviewed at a small salon on Second Street with Effie Montoya and there was an instant bond. Effie established the high-end salon in 1974, and she and Michael were both graduates of the prestigious Vidal Sassoon Academy.
Michael grew an international following because of his extraordinary talent as a precision hair stylist, and had a special gift for coloring.
After working together for 11 years, Michael bought the salon from Effie. The business quickly grew, and in his words, “I’ve been able to make the shop my own — remodel, renew, all the while keeping the high standards Effie held me to when I was her employee.”
He had just another three years to pay off the purchase of the shop. Both Effie and Michael’s families hope to give someone a chance to purchase the shop and continue the high standards that Effie & Co. represented.
Michael is survived by his parents, Robert and Kathryn Schwartz; siblings Christopher Schwartz and Nicole Carlson-Schwartz (with husband Erik Carlson); nephews Henry and Julian Carlson, and his two white poodles Pugsley and Wednesday.
His memory will live on through the many friends he graced along the way, and those he helped, supported and guided through the addiction recovery process.
Those wanting to pay tribute to Michael Schwartz are encouraged to donate in his honor to the LGBTQ Center Long Beach www.centerlb.org/donate